Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011 - ST 4452

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Sunday Times
ST 4452
Date of Publication in The Sunday Times
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4452]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Dave Perry
Date of Publication in the Toronto Star
Saturday, October 22, 2011


Dave Perry says he found this "slightly on the hard side of medium". As for myself, it was definitely several notches of difficulty beyond that. I was only able to solve about six clues before being forced to call in reinforcements from my Tool Chest. With their assistance, I did complete the puzzle - but with question marks beside at least half a dozen clues where I did not comprehend the wordplay. A bit of further contemplation and I managed to get the number of question marks down to three (12a, 15a, and 26a) before visiting Times for the Times. I can stomach failing to decipher 15a, but missing the other two is unforgivable.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

11a   Bullfighter's trouble with entrance, you might say (7)

In this clue, "you might say" is a homophone (sounds like) indicator. I quickly realized that it applied to 'dor' sounding like 'door'. However, I was slow to recognize that it actually applies to the entire solution. The clue relies on the soft R sound in British spoken English where "matter" is pronounced "mattah" so "matter door" would sound (when pronounced by a Brit) like 'mata dor'. This is one of those homophone clues that doesn't travel well across the Atlantic. Then again, since there are apparently more than 50 regional dialects in Great Britain, we often see screams of protest from parts of the UK that these clues don't work.

15a   Looks jolly basic, this runway (8)

I got the solution (AIRSTRIP) from the definition ("runway"). I can see that "looks" could mean 'airs' ("she displayed a look of confidence"). While not fully clearing up my confusion, Dave Perry's explanation put me on a more fruitful track. In Britain, a jolly (Collins English Dictionary, noun 2.) is a trip, especially one made for pleasure by a public official or committee at public expense. Now, that would seem to leave just the word "basic" unaccounted for.

7d   Baby's temperature taken by stranger, about 50 (7)

I initially thought that "taken by" might be a containment indicator. However, it eventually dawned on me that it is being used here as a charade indicator. While the former seems more logical to me, one must bow to the choice of the setter.

19d   Painter puts in call for tyres (7)

Tyre is the British spelling of tire (in the sense of an automobile part). In the solution, RA is a postnominal meaning Royal Academician and denotes membership in the Royal Academy of the Arts.

22d   Witness said "How are you?" (6)

This is another homophone clue (indicated by "said"). A "witness" is a 'watcher' which (taking into consideration the soft British R as well as the British pronunciation of A) would end up sounding like 'wotcha'. Wotcha is also an informal British exclamation used as a friendly or humorous greeting.

Signing off for this week - Falcon

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